Global Briefing

  • Share
  • Read Later
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
A Little Beach Reading

Ever wish you had a crib sheet for those business tomes you haven't got around to reading, or a quick way to match famous business thinkers with their theories? The immodestly titled Business: The Ultimate Resource is both of those and more, at 2,172 oversize pages. Most of the book is devoted to concise, well-written one-page articles. But finding what you need can be a problem. The editors have crammed in a huge amount of information without organizing it well. Biographies, concept essays, book summaries and glossary items are relegated to different sections. An extensive index helps, but the book is still tough to navigate. Bottom line: a big collection of interesting articles that is nothing more or less than the sum of its parts.

--The Best Thing Since The Shoe Phone--

With sales sinking, cell-phone companies are eager for a killer application that will inspire customers to buy new handsets. They're betting on the camera phone. It allows users to take pictures with digital cameras built into their cell phones and instantly e-mail them anywhere. The fun component is obvious — a user could send her friends pictures of herself meeting Tom Cruise while she was meeting Tom Cruise, or get their approval of a blouse purchase — and teenagers around Asia and Europe are using the phones in those ways. But what camera-phone manufacturers really want is to have the gadgets catch on as business tools. Real estate brokers, they say, could take a home buyer on a house tour. Or an accident victim could send a picture to her insurance agent when she files a report. The first camera phone available in the U.S., the Sony Ericsson T68i, which uses a camera attachment, launched in July. Nokia is exploring U.S. marketing of its all-in-one camera phone, the 7650 GPRS, which is a hit in Europe. Other cell-phone companies are considering similar products for Americans.

The World According to Ziggy

Reggae artist Ziggy Marley has joined U2's Bono in asking the world's richest countries to forgive the debts of poorer nations like Marley's native Jamaica. Though the leaders of many indebted countries have been criticized for indiscriminate borrowing and spending, Marley directs his ire at the lenders. "Developing countries helped make the so-called First World with our labor, gold and minerals," he says. "We still have the cheapest labor. That's why companies go to Mexico to make cheap sneakers. We still make First World economies grow." Ziggy, the son of the legendary Bob Marley, founded U.R.G.E.--Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment — to fund projects in developing countries and to spread his message of debt forgiveness. Marley is living in the U.S. while recording an album. He and his band, the Melody Makers, recently contributed songs to Life and Debt, a documentary that argues that Jamaica's continued impoverishment is a result of its indebtedness to the International Monetary Fund.

Update
--A BOEING FLIGHT DELAY?

In our May 2001 cover story, TIME Global Business reported on the rivalry between Boeing and Airbus, and the swoopy subsonic jet that Boeing is developing. But with cash-strapped airlines canceling orders for conventional planes, Boeing may be announcing a flight delay owing to market turbulence.

Boeing had proposed shuttling 250 passengers over extra-long routes at just below the speed of sound in the Sonic Cruiser — shaving an hour off the current flying time on a 3,000-mile trip from, say, New York City to London. But these days most travelers would rather fly cheaper than fly faster — especially business travelers, who already pay high fares. That's led to speculation by industry analysts that Boeing will scrap the Sonic Cruiser in favor of a more fuel-efficient version of its 250-passenger 767. Boeing says it is considering both options and will decide by the end of the year which aircraft is No. 1 for takeoff.

Europeans' Guilty Pleasure

While the mini — the very compact car made for narrow Old World streets — is having a rebirth in the U.S., Europeans are showing a growing preference for gas-guzzling SUVs, which were designed for open back roads and Wal-Mart parking lots. While new car sales in Europe were down 4% in the first half of 2002 compared with the same period last year, SUV sales there were already up 9%. But there's no denying those skinny streets, so Europeans usually steer clear of the Suburbans and Expeditions. Toyota's RAV4, one of the smaller SUVs on the market, is the biggest seller in Europe. To compete, Ford recently rolled out a vehicle made specifically for the European market. It's called the Fusion — a compact SUV look-alike that Ford has dubbed an Urban Activity Vehicle.

Sixties Banking

In recent years, banks have steadily steered customers away from teller service to the cost-saving ATMs that are usually lined up just outside the lobby. But now that depositors are fleeing stocks and flooding money-market accounts with cash, banks are competing for their business in ways not seen since the thrifty '60s. Instead of handing out toasters to new customers, banks today are giving away coolers, Home Depot gift certificates, frequent-flyer miles and even Palm Pilots. The New Haven Savings Bank in Connecticut sent bank officers, including the president, to cook and run errands for lucky raffle winners. Customers can log on to the Internet free at the Wainwright Bank in Boston. The Futurus Bank in Alpharetta, Ga., hands out free cups of coffee. "If you want to build more than one relationship with the customer, you've got to get them to come in to see what you have to offer," says Julie Malveaux, spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association. The banks say the promotions have been good for business.